Apple has published a new resource for educators about using iPad for learning. Separated into four sections: Connect, Collaborative, Creative, and Personal, the resource PDF provides information on topics such as accessibility, productivity, creative projects for learners and apps for education. In addition, the resource provides links to free curricular and learning resources and professional learning opportunities.
UNAR Labs, an early stage Maine-based startup with a mission to empower people with vision impairment via multisensory information access using touchscreen-based smartphones and tablets. UNAR Labs researchers are seeking individuals for paid participation in a study to understand and identify the best tactile guidelines, conversion/translation parameters, and embossing strategies used in traditional tactile graphics generation processes. The researchers believe that insights from experts in the field will guide them in designing a meaningful prototype software system for enabling blind and visually-impaired users with access to digital graphical materials.
The commitment is an interview (zoom or phone) with field experts involved in the process of generating braille and tactile graphics. The interviewee may be tactile artists, braille transcribers, braille proofreaders, tactile graphic prepress support staff, and braille/tactile graphics transcribers. Researchers are also interested in shadowing staff at work to better understand workflow, recognize steps used in information down-sampling and the overall conversion/production process; this, of course, will need to take into consideration health and safety during this time of the spread of the coronavirus.
Each interview will take approximately 30-60 minutes. Qualified participants will be compensated $20/hour (Amazon gift card) for their participation (prorated at $5 per 15 minutes). Researchers would like to conduct interviews in the next 2-3 weeks so please don’t delay your response.
With over 2500 resources made up of over 3500 individual files covering common topics in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), gone are the days of spending hours hand crafting tactiles for your students. Imageshare 3.0 is the beginning of a true one-stop-shop for all you multi-modal needs.
“The Maine State Library will be the sole tenant of 242 State St., Augusta which has approximately 25,760 square feet over two floors. The public-facing component will take up almost all of the first floor, save for some private library offices, said Kelsey Goldsmith, director of communications for the state Department of Administrative and Financial Services, which oversees state government real estate. The entrance is off the parking lot, on Manley Street.
“The library and archives, which shares space with the Maine State Museum, has been closed to the public since July, 2020 so the 53-year-old Maine State Cultural Building can undergo extensive asbestos removal and an electrical, cooling and heating overhaul. While it remains closed, the museum is offering online exhibits and events. The library has had curbside pickup since it closed.”
Among the programs affected by the closure has been the Talking Books program, a service for people with print disabilities. The Talking Book Program is administered by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) and provides free library services for eligible patrons, including digital books via smartphone app, NFB-Newsline newspaper services, and free matter mailings.
Much of the Talking Books Program in Maine has been functioning fully as much of the resources are on-line, however staff have been working from home.
“In a normal year, the Maine State Library gets about 75,000 in-person visitors; 17,500 patrons used its computers. In partnership with the Portland and Bangor public libraries, it answered more than 59,000 reference questions in 2018. The library also has a Book by Mail service for rural communities, sending out an average 6,500 books a year to people in areas that don’t have access to a library. It’s talking books program for people who are vision or reading-impaired lent 103,800 items.
Once the majority of the library’s collection is moved to the Winthrop site, it will be available to the public through the library’s delivery service. The public can pick up requested materials at 242 State St., or have them delivered to the appropriate library across the state. For instance, if a patron of the Portland Public Library requested a book, library staff would send it to Portland.”
The American Council of the Blind’s Audio Description Project (ACB-ADP) and the Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) are cosponsoring an exciting opportunity for young people who are blind and visually impaired: The Benefits of Audio Description in Education (BADIE) contest. Students aged 7 to 21 can participate in one of four categories.
Multimedia experiences are integral to public, private, and special education curriculum. Audio description provides access to all the visual images of the films and videos that young people who are sighted enjoy.
Students can choose a described video from the thousands of titles available through DCMP, libraries, or video streaming services.
Reviews can be submitted in writing, in braille, or via an audio recording. Entries can also be submitted via email or postal mail.
Deadline for entries is Friday, January 22, 2021. Contest winners in each category will be chosen by February 19, 2021, and the grand-prize winner will receive an iPad Mini! Each first-place winner will receive a $100 iTunes gift card. Second-place winners will receive a $50 iTunes gift card, and the third-place winners will receive a $25 iTunes gift card. Each supporting teacher who has a first-place winning student will be awarded a $100 Amazon gift card.
Meet CAST’s team of friendly Technical Assistance Specialists at the AEM Café!
Every first Thursday of the month 4:00 – 5:00 pm ET
How are you approaching accessibility in your learning environment? Are you stuck in a rut? Need some new ideas? Struggling with a challenge? Eager to share a new idea or strategy with others?
Every first Thursday of the month from 4:00 – 5:00 pm ET, we’ll focus on a topic, share some little-known resources from the AEM Center, and the rest is up to you. Show up, chat, ask questions, or just listen to the conversation. The AEM Café is open and ready to welcome you!
Interim Agreement Reached for the November 3, 2020 Election
Augusta, Maine – An interim agreement has been reached between the Maine Secretary of State’s Office (SOS) and named municipalities and Plaintiffs Lynn Merrill, Nicholas Giudice, Pauline Lamontagne, Cheryl Peabody, and Disability Rights Maine that provides Maine voters an accessible absentee ballot system for the upcoming November 3, 2020 general election. Following a lawsuit filed on July 15, 2020 by the Plaintiffs, the SOS agreed to develop and implement an accessible absentee ballot system for qualified voters with disabilities. This system will allow for accessible absentee ballots across all Maine’s municipalities.
Starting October 2, 2020, Maine voters with print disabilities can access an Accessible Absentee Ballot Request Form on the Secretary’s website to request an accessible electronically-delivered absentee ballot. Maine’s accessible ballot will allow voters to both receive and return the ballot electronically to the Secretary of State’s Office to be counted.
Print disabilities may include, but are not limited to, vision impairment or blindness; physical dexterity limitations; learning disabilities, such as dyslexia; brain injury or cognitive impairment; or early dementia, all which may prevent an individual from independently marking a paper ballot.
“No one should have to choose between their health in th e pandemic and exercising the most fundamental and important right in a democracy-the right to vote. We are pleased that the Secretary of State’s Office has taken steps to ensure that people with print disabilities will be able to vote privately, independently, and safely from their home for the November 3 general election,” says lead counsel, Kristin Aiello of Disability Rights Maine.
The terms of the agreement, which apply to the November 3, 2020 general election, include the following:
A new application is being added to the state’s existing Absentee Ballot Request (ABR) Service that will enable Maine voters who self-certify that they have a disability that prevents them from completing a paper ballot independently to vote by electronic ballot.
To obtain a ballot, qualified voters must complete an online request for an accessible absentee ballot and receive the accessible ballot from the Secretary’s Elections Division.
The application is accessible by standard screen reader text-to-speech software, and enables a voter who is blind or visually impaired to navigate the application and independently complete the form fields.
The Secretary is designing a welcome page on the SOS website for the accessible ABR Service. The welcome page for accessible absentee ballot users will contain tips for each screen reader, which will walk the user through each step of accessing the ballot. The welcome page will also contain a sample absentee ballot so people can practice prior to voting with the real ballot using their own operating system.
Once the voter’s application is approved, the voter will receive a secure log in and credentials to access the state ballot for the electoral districts in which they reside, as well as any local ballots.
The SOS will provide universally accessible pdf (UA/PDF) absentee ballots that voters with print disabilities will be able to download and review using a standard screen reader (JAWS, NVDA, or VoiceOver).
Voters will be able to mark their choices independently and confidentially, and then submit the ballot via a secure delivery system using the secure log in credential provided through the ABR service. Voters can track the status of the absentee ballot at every stage of the process.
To assist voters navigate the new system, the Secretary’s vendor has hired an expert in accessibility, Maria Delgado, formerly of American Printing House for the Blind, to troubleshoot any problems that occur when print-disabled voters are attempting to cast an absentee ballot. Ms. Delgado will work with each voter through the system if any problems should occur. Information on how to contact her will be on the accessible ballot web page.
People with print disabilities will be able to submit their ballot requests via the online ABR service and obtain their ballots to cast starting on October 2, 2020, which is the same date that other voters will begin to receive their paper-based absentee ballots.
Some schools are offering blended learning where students spend a few days in down-sized classrooms and the other days doing online classes from home. Still other schools are starting with 100% distance learning and then phasing in on-site classes to small cohorts of students in “learning pods.”
No matter what the school environment looks like, the stakes are even higher for students with learning differences. How can teachers provide books in alternate formats so students with reading barriers like dyslexia, blindness, and cerebral palsy can complete assignments, no matter where and how learning is taking place?
To help teachers prepare for a successful back to school, the Bookshare staff has assembled a collection of valuable resources, tips, step-by-step guides, video tutorials, curated reading lists, and webinars. Visit the back-to-school resource page for details…
Recent federal statutory developments have impacted the provision of accessible educational materials, specifically those sourced from NIMAS files. The following changes mean that certain aspects of the AEM Navigator are now outdated:
Definitions of key NIMAS-related terms have been updated.
The NIMAC is now permitted to accept NIMAS files sourced from digital instructional materials.
Second, the U.S. Department of Education recently published a Notice of Interpretation in the Federal Register permitting the NIMAC to accept NIMAS files sourced from digital instructional materials. Previously, as reflected throughout the AEM Navigator, the NIMAC was permitted to accept NIMAS files from print instructional materials only. We are currently working with our stakeholders to develop new guidance and technical assistance to support educators with navigating a student’s need for accessible materials, whether those materials start as print or as digital.
We look forward to providing you with a new version of the AEM Navigator. The timeline primarily depends on when the Library of Congress publishes procedures related to the new term “eligible person.” While we don’t expect to be able to replace the AEM Navigator Online Tool due to the technology now being outdated, we will certainly build the best experience possible for you and your team.
If you have questions or comments regarding upcoming changes to the AEM Navigator, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Described and Captioned Media Program is the nation’s leading source for accessible educational content, providing services for students who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind.
Families and school personnel with early learners through Grade 12 students can register for free access to over 6,000 Educational Media titles on-demand and on DVD. The DCMP Learning Center contains a wealth of information related to education, accessibility, deafness, blindness, and other related topics. DCMP provides Media Accessibility Guidelines through their Captioning Key and Description Key, used by media professionals as well as amateurs around the world.
DCMP membership provides unlimited access to thousands of accessible educational videos. We’re fully funded by the U.S. Department of Education, so there are no costs associated with any of our services. Family members, school personnel, and other professionals who work with early learners through Grade 12 students with a hearing or vision loss do qualify for membership.
Photo credit: Image licensed through Creative Commons by Hero Images